Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
October 10, 2001
Fire destroys Wainwright school
Superintendent determined to maintain Catholic identity while school rebuilt
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
WAINWRIGHT — Some 500 students of Blessed Sacrament Catholic School will be relocated to four different sites after a Sept. 26 fire gutted their school.
East Central Alberta Catholic Schools emphasized that the move is temporary as the division collects portables to be installed in a more centralized location.
"We have to be as forward as we can be to maintain the legacy of Catholic education and not allow the fire destroy that," Superintendent David Keohane, told the WCR.
It will take two years to rebuild the school and plans for the construction will commence as soon as possible.
"Our major challenge now is how to maintain our Catholic identity while the classes are scattered to different places," said the superintendent who assumed his office only in July.
The total cost of damage is not yet determined, but the replacement building is estimated to cost between $10 to $12 million. The school just underwent a $3.6-million renovation before the fire.
It is difficult to estimate the amount of the total damage because personal losses are valuable to the individuals, said Keohane.
Classes at Blessed Sacrament have been suspended since the fire and will commence Oct. 9 at the following locations:
After an eight-day suspension of classes, the division is looking into ways to help teachers and students acquire new school supplies.
Lesson plans, backpacks, textbooks and other personal possessions were lost in the fire.
"We have to make sure the school is equipped to go back into operation," Keohane said.
The division is also looking into busing arrangements and coordinated dismissal times.
No one was hurt in the fire and everybody was accounted for, but while waiting for the school to re-open, students, teachers and staff need to talk about their experience.
To deal with their personal losses counselling sessions for teachers and staff were in place and recreational activities for students were scheduled.
"We have lost, but we haven't lost our spirit," Principal Don Cameron, told Global TV a day after the fire.
A Mass was celebrated at Blessed Sacrament Church, Oct. 1. The school division continues to receive an outpouring of assistance from community agencies, businesses and individuals.
"People are working together, putting aside their differences," said Father Josef Wroblewski, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish.
"Catholic education should not be disrupted and so everyone takes the welfare of the students as a priority," he said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although it was reported earlier that the fire was believed to have been accidentally started by a roofing crew using hot tar.
The fire alarm in the school did not work during the fire although it was tested prior to school commencing this year and at regular intervals up until the fire.
Wainwright Fire Department has confirmed that the manner in which heat and flames from the fire travelled rendered all fire alerting devices inoperable.
Donations for the school can be made directly to the school board office (223-10 St., Wainwright T9W 1N7) or to the Bank of Montreal, Credit Union and Royal Bank in Wainwright.
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